MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Nelson Cruz hit three home runs in a game for the second time in 10 days, powering the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins over the Kansas City Royals 11-3 on Saturday night.
A day after he homered, doubled twice and drove in five runs, Cruz again had five RBIs.
Cruz hit a two-run homer in the first inning, a solo drive in the second and a two-run homer in the sixth. He didn’t get a chance at a record-tying fourth home run – he was left on deck when Jorge Polanco grounded out to end the eighth.
Cruz connected for a career-high three home runs on July 25 against the White Sox, and matched that mark against the Royals. He has 30 homers this year and 390 for his career, tying Graig Nettles for 62nd on the all-time list.
Polanco and C.J. Cron and Jorge Polanco also homered for the Twins, who lead Cleveland by three games.
Jorge Soler homered and Meibrys Viloria had two RBIs for the Royals, who have lost five consecutive games and eight of nine.
The Twins homered three times in a five-run second inning off Danny Duffy (5-6). Cron, reinstated from the injured list earlier in the day, hit a solo homer and later Polanco had a three-run drive and Cruz followed with a home run.
Max Kepler and Cron had RBI singles in the fifth inning. Cron finished with three hits.
Kyle Gibson (11-4) allowed two earned runs and four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Duffy gave up nine runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
He was tagged for four homers, walked two and struck out five.
Former Twins closer Joe Nathan was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame prior to the game.
Nathan spent seven of his 16 major league seasons in Minnesota.
He recorded a franchise-record 260 saves in 460 games. Forty-five of Nathan’s 377 career saves came against the Royals.
Twins: OF Byron Buxton (left shoulder subluxation) and RHP Michael Pineda (right triceps strain) were placed on the 10-day injured list.
RHP Zack Littell and OF Jake Cave were recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take their places on the 25-man roster.
LHP Lewis Thorpe was optioned to Triple-A to make room for Cron (right thumb inflammation).
RHP Jake Odorizzi (12-5, 3.73) starts for the Twins on Sunday against Royals RHP Brad Keller (7-10, 4.01).